Saturday, 10 November 2012

Disability - A Touch of Frost

As an audience, we tend to react in different ways when we see someone with a disability. Some of us may pity them, some of us might be shocked because of the severity of their disability or their looks, but most of us have preconceptions that they can't do anything for themselves and they need looking after. 
In 'A touch of Frost' the character of Billy has Down's syndrome and the clip explores the possibility he knows something to do with 'Trisha' a girl who has gone missing. We are first introduced to Billy when he is walking through the woods covered in what looks like his own blood. The forest around him is dark yet he is well lit, and this gives the audience a chance to see him and form their first impressions of him. The fact he is lit up juxtaposes with the dark background and hints at the fact he is innocent, as light has connotations of being good and holy. However, the non-diegetic music in the background is mysterious and adds to the eerie atmosphere, which suggests he has done something wrong. These two examples can be seen as portraying Billy's state of mind, as he is clearly confused and doesn't know what to do. This reinforces the idea that people with disabilities find it hard to think for themselves, and don't have a balanced state of mind. 
Before we fully meet Billy, we are made aware that he is disabled, because of the conversation Frost has with his father. "Mentally subnormal" is a phrase used by Frost, which is then corrected to "Handicapped" by Billy's dad. Frost's use of words shows how most people view disabled people. They treat them differently because they don't think they are 'normal'. A tilted high-angle shot is used in this scene to show their conversation is private and that Frost plans on behaving in a different way because of the delicacy of the situation. Also, because they are talking about Billy, it even reinforces the fact Billy doesn't have any power, as the high-angle shot and their conversation shows his vulnerability. This scene was added into the show, so the audience could form an image of Billy in their mind and come to their own conclusions about his disability. The programme then explores our views and we can see if our first impressions are correct or just stereotypical. We meet Billy's mum and she has a bowl of water and a wash cloth in her hands as she wants to "clean him up" like a mother would do to a child. This adds to the idea people with disabilities are treated like children and can't do things for themselves. 

Lot's of people look down on someone with a disability, because of the fact they think they don't understand simple things. When Frost starts interviewing Billy, he makes him feel inferior buy using a patronizing tone as he acts like he is talking to a child. Billy responds like a child with simple answers such as "I was frightened", and this reinforces the idea that people with Down's syndrome or any other kind of disability are childlike and don't fully understand certain situations. When the camera focuses on Billy, High-angled camera shots are used to look down on him whilst he is sitting on an armchair near to his dad. This shows his lack of importance and power within the scene. No non-diegetic music is played throughout this scene as it builds tension and makes the scene feel more like an interrogation. Frost starts to treat Billy like a suspect as he gets more and more frustrated throughout the scene.
The editing throughout the whole of this clip is slow and no fast paced scenes are used as most of the story takes place in the family's living room. Slow editing is used to build tension within the scenes and conversation as the audience is always waiting to hear and see new information. The editing could also slow to show how people think Billy has trouble understanding people and that his mind doesn't work as fast as people without a disability. However, Billy changes his statement half way through the scene, and this shows us that maybe he knows more than he is letting on, and he is capable of doing and thinking for himself. This contradicts the original stereotype and thoughts people have on disabled people, as Billy may not be as mentally childlike and useless as people expect him to be. 
I think this clip both adheres to and contradicts peoples original thoughts on Billy and disability as a whole. We can see the character is treated differently because of his disability, but we can also see that he may not be as harmless and incapable as we think. The overall ideas on disability and whether Billy is as clever as most 'normal' people are, adds to the enigma of the show as we never figure out what is going on in his head and whether he does know anything about the disappearance of Trisha. 

1 comment:

  1. Well done, Holly.
    Good embedding of examples . I also ensure that you use sound; the use of the high pitched non diegetic sound in the forest and then the lack of sound except diegetic in the interview scenes give signals/ clues to the audience about how we should feel and what to focus on ; action or dialogue in this case.